Paul Smith has managed to get under the skin of WBO super-middleweight champion Arthur Abraham.
The pair met last September when Abraham won by unanimous decision. Nearly everyone, excepting Smith's corner-and his family, had Abraham the victor.
The problem was the margin of victory.
Two judges scored the fight 117-111 for Abraham, while the third must have been watching another bout.
His 119-109 tally was ridiculous.
This writer had Abraham ahead by two points.
Regardless of what the judges saw, or didn’t see, the fight was competitive.
Smith, a 32-year-old journeyman from Liverpool, England, gave a good account of himself. He was motivated, while Abraham looked bored. The result was a pretty good scrap, with Abraham landing the heavier shots, and Smith being the more active boxer.
In the days after the bout, Smith complained bitterly to anyone who would listen.
"What can you do,?" said Smith to Sky Sports 2. “It's disgusting. It's the main thing I hate about boxing. Most of them have never fought and they're robbing kids of life changing opportunities.”
He had a point sonce most of the public agreed with him, as did many observers, that the fight was close.
Smith’s grumbling eventually paid off. The WBO initially insisted that Abraham was under no obligation to defend his belt for a second time against Smith.
But Abraham, who had said he would give Smith a rematch, overruled the organization by agreeing to a return bout.
The sequel is scheduled for February 21 at Berlin’s O2 Arena.
Abraham (41-4, 28 KOs) has grown tired of Smith’s bellyaching.
He plans on inflicting some pain on the challenger.
“I promise Smith will not experience the twelfth round," Abraham told www.skysports.com. "He'd better train well, because I will show no mercy. Paul Smith put in a good performance in the first fight, but I was just better.
“Why whine afterwards and talk about a miscarriage of justice in some English media?"he asked. "I don't understand that. Neither the organizers nor I determine who the judges are."
Smith (35-4, 20 KOs) has paid no attention to Abraham’s promises.
"You can do whatever you want, but on February twenty-first, you will lie on the canvas," said Smith.
Does Smith have a chance to defeat Abraham?
Actually, he does.
Abraham hasn’t knocked out an opponent in three years.
Where’s his power?
Some fighters lose their pop as they age. Abraham is 34. He’s slowed down in more ways than one.
Was Smith’s performance last year the best of his career? Most say yes. Combine that with Abraham’s decline, and it’s conceivable that Smith could pull off the upset.
Still, it seems unlikely. Abraham is very aware that a decisive victory will lead to a big fight against former champion Felix Strum.
If his words are true, he’s more focused this time.
He probably won’t knock out Smith, but I see him winning again, in another tightly-contested match.